Years of hard work are in jeopardy if a group of baseball enthusiasts from British Columbia can’t find a way to get thousands of dollars of donated gear down for a camp they’re hosting this March in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
It all started with Mike Canaday’s vision — just one of many people who are trying to bring the game to all the local kids who can’t afford it.
It’s taken Canada two years to gather $15,000 worth of equipment for the initiative, including more than 100 gloves and scores of bats, cleats, balls, helmets, catchers gear and uniforms.
The gear is enough to outfit six teams.
Canaday was studying Spanish in Puerto Escondido eight years ago when he noticed there was no place for local kids to play baseball.
“They don’t have the league, they don’t have the finances to support their young athletes, and they just don’t have the resources,” he told Global News.
Now, with the support of Ladner Minor Baseball, they’re hoping to launch a free two-week camp like the ones B.C. kids participate in.
Canaday, four other coaches and five support staff plan to bring the donated gear to Puerto Escondido in March and introduce 75 kids — some who have never caught a baseball before — to the game.
“To think there are some kids who aren’t exposed to it and they’re not even aware of what team sports can bring to your life, it inspired me right away,” coach RJ O’Neil said of the project.
“RJ and I are both teachers, so we see it on a daily basis, the discrepancy in opportunities kids have,” added Ladner Minor Baseball president Todd Allen.
“You look at a country like Mexico — and we’re incredibly lucky in Canada — these kids aren’t going to have those opportunities.”
There’s still a lot of work to do. Canaday and his team are paying to fix up the field, and are still drawing up practice plans with local coaches.
But the biggest hurdle right now is shipping, and the cost of getting all the equipment down to Mexico.
“The cheapest quote is $8,000 going up to $18,000,” Canaday said.
The group is fundraising and has also launched a GoFundMe campaign.
They’re hoping all the work doesn’t go to waste, and dozens of kids who couldn’t otherwise afford this opportunity finally get a chance to play some ball.
“We need to reach out, not just within Canada but other parts of the world,” he said.
“If we can change just a couple of kids’ lives and make them feel part of something, then we’ve done a good job.”